Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What Is Writing All About Anyway?

For nearly two years I was a professional writer. Earning peanuts by writing quality web-site content for monkeys who had little or less hope of getting their web sites up in the rankings than anyone else in this crazy, money-driven  world.

The idea is that a well-written article gets published by a website owner on a eZine site. It contains, along with good information about currently important topics, the eZine-allowed two URL references back to the buyer's website.  The article is spied by others who recognise quality when they see it, and it is then copied and published over and over again (virally) on an increasing number of websites looking for *any* content related to their particular subject area. One of them reached 28,000 copies and then I got tired of watching. The more times the article is copied, the more times the URL of the owner's website is exposed to internet search engines. And we all know, of course, that the more times that the bots see your url - the higher your page's ranking will be in the results of searches. The aim is always to be in the number one spot, and definitely on the first page of the search results.

And if anyone has still not heard the penny drop - the reason for this is simple. If a user searches on a word, say, haemorrhoids, and you are in the top ten websites that come up in the results and you just happen to sell haemorrhoid remedies (or refer to a website that does) - the chances are that the person looking for a solution to his problem will buy from your shop (equals money) or from the click-through website (equals less, but still some money).  

I wrote 500 words (495 actually - you never, ever give them everything they ask for) for around 500 cents (American) less about 25% for fees which were taken by the introducing forum and the money transfer and currency conversion agents. Despite paying next to nothing and expecting the world,  on the odd occasion someone, somewhere would whine about a one-letter error because a word was spelt in the UK fashion rather than the American. Like they couldn't fix it themselves.

One particularly ratty day, I got a snottogram from just one such (and particularly difficult to work for) buyer who told me I had wasted his time by causing him to have to send my article back to me for correction. It was a bad day to do that to me. Having just worked 18 hours on the trot for a decent customer (he paid $10 per 495 words plus he added on fees on top) to help him out and so feeling rather testy, I sent the chap back an email suggesting that he might like to substitute this word (correct spelling in inverted commas) for the incorrectly spelled word (in inverted commas) and the job would be done and that if he was smart enough to actually be able to see a single spelling error in 500 words, then surely he was smart enough to correct it himself without asking me to send him the correct spelling?

My email had the necessary effect. The quantity of words that I came back must have taken him at least an hour to write. In reality I suspect it was about two hour's worth of composition and editing in order to get exactly the right tone, vocabulary and essence in the message - for that was the period between me sending the reply and receiving his liturgy.

On receipt, I sent him back another one which read more or less 'Oops. Sorry - before I had a chance to read what you wrote - I accidentally deleted your email. Would you mind resending please?'  That of course required further composition and of course, another hour's worth of ranting and finger bashing on his part.

Have you guessed it yet?

For those who haven't, I'll spell it out for you. The moral of the story is:  don't waste my time with inane stupidity, or you will find I will happily waste a LOT of yours... 

I deleted the next one too, but not before I sent him a third email in which I pointed out that 2 seconds of typing in one single letter and pressing a single backspace button to correct a genuine oversight on my part would have saved him 3 hours of typing. And - oh - by the way - he owed me for the time I just spent reading his rather lengthy emails (as per the sales/communications regulations of the forum through which we did our negotiations).

I wonder if he learned his lesson?

Today was a good day. I learned that people liked my hand turned pens and bought 4 of them during the last two weeks. There is nothing quite as encouraging when a buyer feeds back just how happy they are with something you have created - whether it be with your hands, out of wood, or through your fingertips on a keyboard - by means of words.

Now I need to make some more to go in the shop for someone else to come along and like...

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